Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces


Future Factsrss

New Jersey Gets a D+ on New Climate Preparedness Report Card

November 19th, 2015 by Elaine Clisham

Mantoloking SandyA new report card, States at Risk, that grades each of the 50 states on how prepared they are for future severe weather and climate change, gives New Jersey a D+, and faults it particularly for the absence of future-oriented plans to address flooding and extreme heat.

By contrast, all of New Jersey’s neighboring states received a B+ (Delaware) or better; New York and Pennsylvania each received an A. All Northeastern coastal states except Maine received higher grades than New Jersey. Read the rest of this entry »

Report: Fiscal Implications of Development Patterns on Road Usage

November 10th, 2015 by New Jersey Future staff

This article was written by Chris Zimmerman of Smart Growth America.

IMG_7244For a new report released Nov. 10, New Jersey Future teamed up with Smart Growth America to examine the relationship between residential and employment density and per-capita road usage, and to consider how much state, county and municipal governments in New Jersey could save on road maintenance bills by building in more compact ways.

The Fiscal Implications of Development Patterns: Roads in New Jersey analyzes the relationship between road infrastructure needs and population and employment density. It found that as density increases, per-capita road needs decrease, suggesting in turn that there are road-maintenance savings to be realized if the distribution of New Jersey’s population and jobs could be made even incrementally more dense and compact. Read the rest of this entry »

New Jersey Future Celebrates George Pruitt

November 3rd, 2015 by Peter Kasabach

Former Governor Kean, Trenton Mayor Jackson praise pioneering educator

L to R: New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach; former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean; George Pruitt; and New Jersey Future founding trustee Ingrid Reed.

L to R: New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach; former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean; George Pruitt; and New Jersey Future founding trustee Ingrid Reed.

At a reception on the evening of Oct. 29, 2015, New Jersey Future honored Dr. George Pruitt, president of Thomas Edison State College, for his dedication to higher education and to the revitalization of Trenton’s downtown area. Scores of officials and supporters attended the event, which took place in the majestic and scenic setting of the Ellarslie mansion in the Frederick Law Olmstead-designed Cadwalader Park.

Full photo gallery Read the rest of this entry »

Rebuild By Design Resiliency Projects: A Status Update

October 28th, 2015 by Elaine Clisham

New Jersey Future’s comments on both stress the need to adopt climate projections, engage communities

Rendering of the New Meadowlands Rebuild By Design project.

Rendering of the New Meadowlands Rebuild By Design project.

New Jersey Future recently submitted comments on two proposals related to New Jersey’s multi-million dollar Rebuild By Design projects, which are intended to make the Meadowlands and Hudson River shoreline areas more disaster-resilient.

The New Meadowlands project is the target for additional funding in the state’s final-round application to the federal National Disaster Resilience Competition, which proposes construction of a berm as a flood-protection measure. The Hudson River project Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge, which provides a multi-pronged strategy to manage stormwater in and around Hoboken, is the subject of a draft scope of work for engineering services. New Jersey Future submitted comments on the draft final-round NDRC application, and on the draft scoping document for the Hoboken project.

Several common themes emerged in both sets of comments and recommendations:

  • Both initiatives should adopt a set of sea-level rise projections through 2075 and 2100, since the useful life of the proposed infrastructure is at least 50 years, and both initiatives should select projects based on a comprehensive cost-and-benefit analysis over that time period;
  • In addition to employing floodwalls or berms to address more severe coastal flooding, both initiatives should incorporate green-infrastructure techniques that can mitigate the recurring nuisance flooding that happens after regular rainstorms;
  • Both initiatives should make greater efforts to engage with, vulnerable populations — for example, the elderly, those with limited English proficiency, and the disabled — to ensure that their needs are addressed in the projects.

Both projects are on a fast track to allow them to meet federal deadlines for the obligation and expenditure of funds. They can be followed on the state Department of Environmental Protection’s flood hazard program page.

Are Towns in a Better Position to Make Long-Term Resiliency Decisions?

October 27th, 2015 by Elaine Clisham

Report Examines Model Framework for Local Disaster Resiliency Planning

In Deep cover graphicA new report from New Jersey Future examines the origin and outcomes of a groundbreaking approach to helping communities take steps to make themselves more resilient to natural disasters. The approach, based on FEMA’s recommended National Disaster Recovery Framework, was piloted by New Jersey Future in six Sandy-affected communities. The report summarizes the lessons learned from those engagements, and discusses recommendations for replicating the approach effectively in other post-disaster situations.

“Over the last two years we’ve learned that the risks people are willing to take are high if it means remaining in their homes and community,” said New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach. “We also learned that when presented with a thorough analysis of vulnerability and future risks that reflects the specific characteristics of their community, residents in coastal areas are willing to envision the sometimes considerable changes that will be needed to improve their long-term health and safety.”

He added, “One of the keys to this process being successful is being able to spend the necessary time understanding the local community and building trust with leaders and participants, and then engaging with them over an extended period of time.”

The pilot program involved placing local recovery planning managers (LRPMs) in selected municipalities to assist with short-term recovery, to help evaluate offers of post-disaster assistance, to secure additional resources, and to facilitate decision-making to increase long-term resiliency. These professionals were made available at no cost to the participating towns, through funding from the Merck Foundation and the New Jersey Recovery Fund.

The report documents how decisions were made about which towns should be part of the pilot LRPM program and the commitments they needed to make; what steps needed to be taken in order to ensure that both residents and local officials could trust the leadership of the LRPMs and engage in a robust change process; and how the program approached the difficult tension between increased long-term financial risk and the urgent need to rebuild an area heavily economically dependent on its geography.

Results to date from the six towns indicate that the approach is effective for both assisting local governments with immediate recovery needs and engaging the community and local elected officials in critical decision-making about risk and vulnerability. The keys to achieving results include working hand-in-hand with local officials over an extended period of time; explaining clearly the financial risk to both property owners and municipalities of assets that are left in harm’s way; and ensuring that as broad as possible a cross-section of the affected community can participate in the ensuing discussions.

“One of the significant accomplishments of the program was to be able to encourage people to think about and discuss the implications of living in a vulnerable area,” said New Jersey Future Recovery Planning Manager David Kutner, who leads the LRPM effort. “Once you demonstrate to people the financial consequences of merely rebuilding back to the way things were, given future projections for sea-level rise, people’s eyes are open to just how at risk they are, and they’re more willing to confront the issue.”

Recommendations in the report cover how best to implement a similar program in other communities, and how to align state and federal rebuilding policies with local resilience goals. But perhaps the biggest recommendation in the report is that sufficient funds should be allocated to expand the program, both to more affected towns and to allow LRPMs to stay embedded for longer than the two years that current funding has allowed. A longer engagement would allow the risk-based conversations to mature and result in specific strategies that will affect current and future residents. Allocating more post-disaster aid money to local long-term planning would facilitate this expansion, and, based on this pilot implementation, would enable recipients to make themselves less vulnerable to future disasters, thus potentially reducing their need for post-disaster aid.

The full report and associated documents are available here.

More information and resources on rebuilding for resiliency are available here.

NJ Spotlight on Cities: Successful Development Requires a Community’s Blessing

October 26th, 2015 by New Jersey Future staff

This article is written by Sonia Schnee, video production and outreach coordinator for CivicStory, where the article originally appeared.

Photo by Amanda Brown, NJSpotlight. Left to right: Paul Silverman of SILVERMAN; Ron Beit of RBH Group; Christiana Foglio-Palmer of Community Investment Strategies, and moderator Peter Kasabach of New Jersey Future

Left to right: Paul Silverman of SILVERMAN; Ron Beit of RBH Group; Christiana Foglio-Palmer of Community Investment Strategies, and moderator Peter Kasabach of New Jersey Future. Photo by Amanda Brown, NJ Spotlight.

The Oct. 16 NJ Spotlight on Cities conference offered a refreshing number of ideas about how to improve conditions in New Jersey’s cities. The day-long conference at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center was presented by NJ Spotlight, a nonprofit state-wide public policy news site.

The speakers at one stimulating panel, Development 2025: What Does the Future Hold? included Ron Beit, chief executive officer of RBH Group, LLC and President of RBH Management; Paul Silverman, co-founder and principal of SILVERMAN; and Christiana Foglio-Palmer, chief executive officer of Community Investment Strategies. RBH Group currently manages development projects in Newark, SILVERMAN is based in Jersey City, and Community Investment Strategies has projects across the state. Read the rest of this entry »

New Driver for Downtown Economic Development in Trenton

October 19th, 2015 by Peter Kasabach

Greater TrentonOn Oct. 19 the mayor of Trenton, Eric Jackson, announced the formation of Greater Trenton, a new economic-development entity dedicated to promoting economic revitalization in New Jersey’s capital city. The organization, an independent 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, is a collaborative of private-sector, institutional and philanthropic organizations that have made an initial five-year financial commitment to fund the initiative.

More details about the announcement are available in these articles from the Times of Trenton and the Trentonian. Read the rest of this entry »

Research Reveals Recession’s Leveling Effect on Residential Development

October 6th, 2015 by New Jersey Future staff

This article was written by New Jersey Future intern Harrison Blackman, who did the underlying data analysis.

Housing near a Hudson-Bergen Light Rail station in Jersey City. Photo courtesy of NJTPA.

Housing near a Hudson-Bergen Light Rail station in Jersey City. Photo courtesy of NJTPA.

Much has been made of the slowdown in residential development in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown and the ensuing Great Recession. At the same time, many commentators have noted the growing popularity of mixed-use, walkable urban areas among members of the rising Millennial generation.

Results from recent research appear to reaffirm both these narratives. The research suggests that while less built-out places grew more rapidly than highly built-out places before the recession (as measured by issuance of certificates of occupancy), the two types of places are now growing at similar rates. That is, redevelopment is now keeping pace with “greenfield” development. Read the rest of this entry »

Post-Recession, Housing Growth and Value in Distressed Municipalities Keep Pace With Non-Distressed

October 5th, 2015 by New Jersey Future staff

This article was written by New Jersey Future intern Harrison Blackman, who did the underlying data analysis.

Cooper Plaza Homes in Camden.

Cooper Plaza Homes in Camden.

In 2006, the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey released a report titled Cities in Transition: New Jersey’s Urban Paradox, in which it examined 30 urban communities in New Jersey that it characterized as “distressed,” based on a number of socioeconomic indicators. The economic landscape has changed a great deal since 2006, especially in the wake of 2008’s Great Recession and the resurgence of growth in many urban areas. So how have these distressed communities fared since the start of the 21st century?

Analysis using data on residential values from the New Jersey Legislative Data Book and data on residential certificates of occupancy (COs) from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs for the years 2000 through 2013 found that distressed, highly built-out communities have kept pace with the CO growth of all highly built-out communities in the state. This research suggests that residential growth in New Jersey in the wake of the recession has been shared more evenly by all municipalities, even if they are considered distressed. Moreover, among only the predominantly built-out municipalities (those that had developed at least 90 percent of their developable land as of 2002), the analysis shows the distressed places grew in value at a slightly higher rate than the non-distressed places. This suggests that, rather than being left behind by the post-recession renewed interest in urban living, distressed municipalities are in fact bouncing back at a greater rate than their non-distressed built-out neighbors. Read the rest of this entry »

Housing and Community Development Network Honors New Jersey Future With Community Partner Award

September 24th, 2015 by Elaine Clisham

HCDNNJ_RedOvalLogoWHITEBkgrdThe Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey announced on Sept. 22 that it will award New Jersey Future its Exceptional Community Partner award. According to the Network, the award goes to an organization that works closely with it “to build strong communities and help ensure economic and social justice.”

In making the award announcement, the Network newsletter cited New Jersey Future’s work to foster smart growth and neighborhood revitalization, noting, “New Jersey Future has been a key ally in the fight to protect New Jersey’s fair housing doctrine, especially in Sandy-affected communities.”

“We are very honored to receive this award,” said New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach. “We have the greatest respect for all the work the Network does to lift up communities across New Jersey, and it is an ongoing pleasure to work with them on issues about which both organizations care deeply.”

The award will be presented at the Network’s annual Community Development Conference and Membership Meeting Oct. 20. Other award-winners include the boroughs of Somerville and Roselle; Florence and Franklin townships; and Britnee Timberlake, president of the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders and founding executive director of Network member Essex Community Land Trust.

© New Jersey Future, 16 W. Lafayette St. • Trenton, NJ 08608 • Phone: 609-393-0008 • Fax: 609-360-8478